• Home
  • Links
  • Contact Us
Follow us

Youth CareerConnect Program And National Institutes Of Health Introduce Future Prince George’s County Scientists To Careers In Genetics

Youth CareerConnect Program Director Yolanda Tully (far left), EDC President & CEO Jim Coleman (second from left), Walter Simmons, Interim Director of Workforce Services Division (second from right) with the ‘Trailblazing 13’Bethesda, MD, August 5, 2016 – Yesterday, the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President & CEO Jim Coleman congratulated 13 Youth CareerConnect(YCC) students for their completion of the inaugural summer internship program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in partnership with Prince George’s Community College(PGCC). This is the first time that such a partnership between Prince George’s County and the NIH has taken place. As the NIH has extremely competitive internship programs, the 13 high school students from Prince George’s County had a unique opportunity to be mentored and guided by some of the world’s most accomplished researchers.

“It is an extreme honor to be able to listen to the capstone presentations of these ‘Trailblazing 13’,” said Coleman. “You all are ‘trailblazers’ because there has never been a group of Youth CareerConnect summer interns who have earned the opportunity to study at the NIH prior to this summer. I am so impressed by your hard work and dedication to learn about solving medical problems. Some of these problems I’ve personally witnessed in members of my family. It is truly a blessing for you to know what you want to do to change the world at such an early point in your lives. ”

Four groups of interns presented on topics including an Overview of Turner Syndrome and Treatments, Prenatal Detection for Albinism, Treatments for Maple Syrup Urine Disease, and Research of Moebius Syndrome. A question and answer segment followed each presentation in which the students had the opportunity to further explain what they learned. Most of the students commented that this experience was eye-opening and influenced their decision to pursue careers in the research and medical fields.

 “My experience with the YCC program at the NIH was amazing,” said Damyia Smith, a student at Potomac High School. “It made me want to change my career path and become a Genetic Counselor. I love that this experience gave young people a chance to learn new things!”

Jonnie Pitman, also a Potomac High School student, expressed how this summer has impacted him.

“This was a lovely experience that I looked forward to everyday,” said Pitman. “I met new friends while learning about genetics and genomics and we put our brain power together to be able to present what everyone saw today.”

The partnership between the YCC and NIH was formed by Yolanda Tully, Youth CareerConnect Program Director and Dr. Carla L. Easter, Branch Chief, National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH to create a unique opportunity for Prince George’s County teens.

 “We wanted to expose Prince George’s County teens to opportunities within the genetics and genomics fields,” said Dr. Easter.  “I was incredibly pleased by the outcome. The quality of the students and the quality of the work was just fantastic! To hear them say that ‘DNA is cool and is my friend’ was just amazing and we could not have planned anything better than this.”

Ms. Tully also shared her pleasure in being a part of this historic partnership to benefit the students in Prince George’s County.

“Our partnership between YCC and NIH has been a phenomenal opportunity for our pioneering students to have an amazing summer experience,” said Tully. “We developed this NIH, YCC Capstone program so that our students could be fully immersed in healthcare and biogenetics. We are very proud of the work that we’ve seen these thirteen students do over the course of the past four weeks.”

The YCC and NIH plan to continue this partnership.

The Youth CareerConnect initiative is sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in collaboration with the Department of Education, to strengthen America’s talent pipeline by supporting stronger high school, postsecondary, workforce investment systems, and employer partnerships.  The program promotes robust employer engagement and work-based learning, focuses on high-demand industries, including STEM, and integrates post-secondary education and training of students for job preparedness. This summer, over 140 students from Bladensburg, Potomac and Fairmont Heights were placed in internships that are preparing them for the high-demand fields of information technology and health care.

To learn more about the Youth CareerConnect Program, please contact Yolanda Tully at yttully@co.pg.md.us or (301) 618-8400.